Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Cem Karayalcin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Professor of Economics

Date of Defense



This dissertation analyzes the intersection of migration with public policy, international trade, and economic development. The first essay investigates the impact on internal migration for 52 different demographic groups of the recent influx of state omnibus immigration laws targeting undocumented immigrants in the United States. Through a difference-in-differences estimation, I find empirical evidence that while the demographic groups pinpointed as having higher percentages of undocumented immigrants certainly experience population and employment 'outflows' from states implementing these immigration laws, there is a lack of associated 'inflows' for those demographic groups identified by economic theory as being probable substitutes for undocumented immigrants. Several segments designated as probable substitutes actually experience an adverse effect on population and employment.

The second essay examines the effect that migrants have on international trade between states of current residence and states of origin. My analysis provides the first results as to the migration-trade nexus at the state level for both places of destination and origin, relying on a unique data set allowing the mapping of Mexican-born migrants' U.S. states of residence to Mexican states of origin. In addition to an augmented gravity model, I employ generalized propensity scores in examining the potential of nonlinearities in the migration-trade relationship, estimating statistically significant elasticities of exports to both in-state and neighboring-state migration.

The third essay analyzes the potentially enormous wage gains that may motivate international migration, an activity which is limited to some extent by governments across the entire world. Freer human mobility and the effects of migration on the migrants themselves have not garnered nearly as much attention as numerous other topics related to the economics of migration. I present novel data collected through household interviews in communities both in Mexico and the United States, comparing the absolute and relative wage gains for interviewees with data from existing Mexican surveys. Migrants indeed stand to collect large net gains; average incomes increase more than fivefold immediately, moving from the lower deciles of origin wage distributions to the top deciles. These results surpass those of some of the most successful current programs of economic development.





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